Dixie Hawkins

Queen of the Bunco Ranch106

Dixie Hawkins - Queen of the Ranch
Dixie Hawkins – Queen of the Ranch

Howdy y’all! I am Dixie Hawkins – Queen of the Bunco Ranch106 in these parts. And that means “Boss and Owner”-  just so we are clear. And like my partner here  Charlene of the Hills, I never did let bein’ a woman stop me from doing right for others and especially my family – no matter what it took. Now don’t giddy-up supposin’ that I am one of those who got what she needed by becomin’ a painted lady. NO SIR-REE – too smart and respectful of my own self.

Let me tell you a little about this gal.

I was born into to a rather prominent family in Gotham. Can’t say I suffered too much as a dreadfully young gal -but in a family of all daughters of a strong Ma, that during my born days a smart woman needed to be even smarter and play in a man’s world. When I was at an age of just becoming a woman – the sickness struck and gone up in smoke was my Ma and Pa and a  few sisters. I had some choices to make about my future and the one I made was to join a family – the Burgerons, who was headed west to the frontier. They were a fine family who took me in as one of their own for the trip. I’ll tell you all about that adventure at a later date and how I met up with Wild Toady who became a trusted and daisy partner til this day.

What you need to know now is I landed in the new territory after separatin’ from the Burgerons. There weren’t a heap many females around and bein’ alone it was scary – I was fortunate that I had met up with Charlene of the Hills on the trail out west,  who offered some protection and advice until I could clear my head and think straight.

There weren’t too many paths for a woman in the west in the early days. Choices were limited: Painted Lady or Saloon Girl, and only a few like Pearl de Vere made that work in her favor.  I sure wasn’t interested in the path of finding some poke to catch and marry and workin’  myself to the big jump by havin’ babies, tendin’ animals, and helpin’ him try to fetch in a crop or tend the cattle. Some like Belle Star  , Pearl Hart, and Rose Dunn went to outlawin – but that was a dirty and dangerous route for sure; and even some like Charley Parkhurst went to just pretendin’ they was a man to survive and prosper.

I wandered into the burg saloon thinkin’ I might get some grub for doing some chores. The owner wasn’t interested in any cookin’ or cleanin’ help and kept givin’ me the eye. He said a young filly could be real comfortable and prosperous if she had the right man managin’ and protectin’ her in return for her satisfyin’ his customers. I knew the difference atwixt the painted ladies and the saloon girls. I talked him into takin’ me on as a modified saloon girl. I knew I couldn’t dance and really didn’t want those cowpokes hangin’ on me with their liquid courage breath. I convinced the owner to hire me as a saloon gal who would manage the other girls – sort of the one who would introduce the dance hall girls to them to keep them in the saloon and spendin’ actual. The establishment hostess to start. My business sense came out and I was able to show how actually havin’ more dance hall girls sellin’ drinks would drive the profits up more than addin’ painted ladies. A passed out cow poke might never know he didn’t get his turn or could easily be convinced he had plus lose some of his pay to the saloon.

I took on the job of saloon girl at $10/week plus commission. Gettin’ the cowpokes to drink was an easy task and they never realized my shots were nothin’ but bourbon scented tea. I had my own bottle – just told them it saved them from havin’ to buy my drinks so they could have more of their own. Although if push came to shove – I could and still can handle my share of firewater.

Bunco Anyone?
Bunco Anyone?

My goal was to earn enough to buy me some land and own a ranch. The weekly pay and commission was adding up a might slow. I  knew a whole lot about gamblin’ and card playin’ from my Pa. So I talked the bartender and owner of the saloon into letting me not only get the men folk to buy drinks, but to cut dirt with a Bunco game to get them in the mood for the gamblin’ and keep them in the saloon until a chair was open at one of the poker tables. I used my negotiatin’ skills and was able to reverse the tables on the owner giving the saloon 1% of the winnings and I kept the rest.

Faster than a jack rabbit I was taking in enough to buy out the saloon if I wanted, but business was daisy for the owner and he knew it. After a few months I purchased the first acres of my ranch and my first herds of cattle. A heap of the customers (whose acutal I earned) became friends of sorts. I had my pick of cowboys who needed ranch work. They knew I was fair and tough. That was the beginning  of my beginning as – Queen of the Bunco Ranch106.

Lookin’ yonder to rustlin’ the creative ranges with the rest of the Outlaw gang.

Follow me on Twitter: @QueenRanch106

Photos from: 

George Arents Collection, The New York Public Library. "Queen of the Ranch." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47de-4149-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "A Bunco Game" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1898 - 1931. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/search/index?utf8=%E2%9C%93&keywords=cowgirl
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